When the Trader Joe’s R&D wonks get bored with putting pumpkin in things, they must just start drawing ingredients out of a hat and dare each other to make food out of them. How else can you explain Trader Joe’s Organic Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Broccoli, the most unusal use of pesto since their Quinoa Pesto.
Trader Joe’s pesto pizza looks like any of their other frozen pizza offerings on the surface, but quickly breaks the mold. In place of a tomato base, it instead uses a rich and savory basil pesto. On to this they layer mozzarella cheese, tomato slices and, strangely, little broccoli florets. Not content to stop there, they replace the standard wheat crust with a crisp, sourdough crust.
The result is a rich-tasting, slightly sour, slightly acidic pizza with plenty of crunch – and surprisingly that works. Each bite is bright and fresh, with a little bit of “zazz” not normally found in the gooey, salty pizza world. Why they added the broccoli I can’t say (this element could have easily been substituted out for a more traditional veggie in my opinion – mushrooms for example) but the pesto base is brilliant, and what ultimately brings the pizza together.
I’ve never had a pesto based pizza before, but it fills each bite with that savory, oily, flavorful taste that really works well with the thin, crispy crust and milder toppings. Although billed as a pizza, this just as easily could be viewed as a pesto-topped flatbread with veggie toppings. The pesto is really the star of the show here, making each bite a savory delight and justifying its otherwise bizarre existence.
The rest of the ingredients are fine – the mozzerlla is sufficient, the tomatoes are a welcome little change to the texture and mellow out the flavor, and the broccoli is forgettable. As a carnivore, I would have preferred some meat on this. Even despite the all veggie topping selection it still misses out on the “Vegetarian” tag for some reason. That said, it still manages to fit in 11 grams of protein per two slice serving, so that’s not bad.
As made clear in the product name, everything in the pizza is laudably organic – from the wheat flour to the olive oil. This is an improvement over the previous incarnation of this pizza, Trader Joe’s Pesto Pizza, which had all the same toppings and was something like 90% organic already. Not an earth-shattering change, but nice. Organic designation aside, the only real reason to pick this up is for the novelty of the pesto. It’s an intriguing take on pizza, and it’d be interesting to see Trader Joe’s introduce some more varieties down the line.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, the pesto is good and the broccoli isn’t as scary as you might think.
Would I Buy It Again: Sure, though I might get some prosciutto to throw on top too.
Final Synopsis: A straight forward pesto flatbread with plenty of zip.
I’ll admit I was very excited when I first saw Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Broccoli Florets. Sure, there’s the obvious reason why – they’re insane. I can see someone going out and frying up a bunch of broccoli in palm oil – maybe an unhinged zealot misinterpreting a Biblical passage or a space alien taking its best guess at replicating human behavior – but to then go out and try and sell those fried florets? That’s downright brazen.
As I say though, that’s not the main reason I got excited when I saw these. The main reason is that I had high hopes they might be a healthy, maybe even tasty, alternative to my potato chip cravings. Alas, this isn’t the case. While the broccoli florets are tasty, in their own fashion, they are by no means healthy.
Let’s examine both of these surprising facts.
Tasty? Yes, definitely tasty – for a given value of tasty at least. The first thing to keep in mind is that these fried broccoli florets have exactly three ingredients – broccoli, palm oil and salt. If you buy these, you should expect them to taste like broccoli, and I certainly was. If you enjoy the taste of broccoli, you’ll find it we’ll preserved here – not at all depleted or ruined by the frying process. As for salt, there’s only a dash, to the tune of only 55mg of sodium (2% your daily value) for the entire bag. Trader Joe’s is content to let the hale, hearty taste of the broccoli speak for itself, and it does.
Taken alone this basic taste wouldn’t be very interesting, but the eponymous “crispy crunch” greatly helps it along. Each floret is dry, crunchy and enjoyable in it’s own right as an interesting texture experience – with a light taste and a mellow, green aftertaste. It’s not the taste sensation of the year, but if these florets were anywhere near as healthy as broccoli, they would be plenty tasty enough to justify a regular purchase as a healthful snack food replacement. That brings us to our second fact.
Healthy? Not at all. Our little 1.4 ounce (40 gram) bag of broccoli may only have 220 calories, but 130 of those calories, more than half, are from fat. That’s 15 grams of fat total, for 23% of your daily value. Of that 6 grams are saturated fat – 30% of your daily total! Shocking for broccoli, I’d say.
Let’s compare that to an equal serving of Trader Joe’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil Potato Chips. 40 grams of that has only 200 calories and 10 grams of fat. Leaps and bounds healthier! The only real advantage they have over potoato chips is that the broccoli retains its nutrients, packing in a pretty decent amount of vitamin C, along with some vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
Without the health factor, there’s no reason to pick up these fried broccoli florets. They taste good enough – but not good enough to warrant that level of fat, when simple raw broccoli florets dipped in a little ranch dressing is not only healthier but far tastier to boot.
Would I Recommend Them: No real reason to.
Would I Buy Them Again: I can’t imagine I will.
Final Synopsis: Fried broccoli that is less healthy and less good tasting than the raw stuff by a wide margin.